Visalia named top pick for neurodiverse travelers

Certified Autism Center Certification presented to Marriott Hotel in downtown Visalia.(Kenny Goodman)

After a strong local initiative from various businesses and organizations, Visalia has become one of the nation’s top destinations for neurodiverse travelers and their families

VISALIA – With its proximity to Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks as well as its Sunflower program, Visalia has officially become a top pick for neurodiverse travelers, earning the title of the United States’ first Certified Autism Destination™.

Coming in at number four, Visalia was listed in Travel + Leisure Magazine’s top seven ‘trips recommended for neurodiverse families’ list. The article, written by Lisa Kadane, details the various amenities provided by the city of Visalia to make it autism-friendly.

Among those listed were the city’s Adventure Park and the Imagine U Children’s museum. A press release made by Visit Visalia also shares that 40% of Visalia’s lodging properties are currently certified by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards. This includes Visalia Wyndham Hotel, Visalia Marriott Hotel, Lamp Liter Inn, Hampton Inn Visalia, Visalia Comfort Suites and the Best Western Visalia.

Various local businesses and organizations have undergone the specialized training for certification, which aims to teach the staff of these various businesses how to better understand what autism is (and isn’t), apply empathy and learn how neurodiverse individuals experience the world.

In addition to the Adventure Park and the Children’s museum, other businesses such as the Mooney Grove Museum, the Visalia Fox Theatre, Valley Oaks Golf Course, Arts Visalia, and Downtown Visalians, add to the list of designated Certified Autism Centers™.

Visit Visalia, an organization which is dedicated to marketing, advertising, public relations and other promotional efforts that inspire travel to the City of Visalia, also contributes to the cause with their “Hidden Disabilities Sunflower” program.

This program uses complimentary sunflower lanyards and bracelets to travelers to serve as a visual cue that a traveler may need additional support during their visit to the various certified businesses and city locations.

Travelers can view the complete list of Visalia’s Certified Autism Centers and learn more about the initiative at

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